Brady Anderson is the Orioles’ version of a renaissance man. His official title is Vice President of Baseball Operations, but that hardly begins to describe what he does for the team.
Anderson was heavily involved in the negotiations to keep Darren O’Day with the Orioles, something that was publicly acknowledged by Dan Duquette this week.
He supervises workouts for players in California during the season, and he does that so expertly that Zach Britton said Anderson was responsible for getting him to the All-Star Game in 2015.
Anderson is also a trusted advisor to manager Buck Showalter, and he’s heavily involved in the search for an assistant batting coach.
Why shouldn’t he? Anderson was one of the best hitters in Orioles history. His 1,614 hits place him fourth behind only his close friend Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray.
His final game with the Orioles was nearly overlooked—because it was Ripken’s, too.
Now, here’s a quiz. The answer will be at the end of the story. Anderson began and ended his career with other teams. Which teams?
Anderson acknowledged at last Saturday’s FanFest that he wasn’t involved in the negotiations to retain Chris Davis, but he likes and admires the slugger.
In 2013, Davis bested Anderson’s team record for home runs. He hit 50 in 1996, but Davis hit 53. It was pointed out the two were close.
“Until he hit 49 we were close,” Anderson joked.
Their friendship doesn’t include Anderson lobbying Davis to return. That’s between Peter Angelos and Davis’ agent, Scott Boras.
“That’s kind of frowned upon. You want to go through their agent unless you have permission,” Anderson said. “We were really close when he did hit his 50 home runs.”
Last year, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who knew Davis from his days with the Texas Rangers, worked with him.
“I rarely spoke to him about hitting unless he wanted some left-handed [throwing] batting practice,” Anderson said. “He’s a unique player. I don’t think I ever played with anybody or seen anybody who just puts the barrel on the ball, and it’s a home run.”
Anderson has played with some great home run hitters: Murray, Ripken, Albert Belle.
The Orioles have reportedly offered seven years and $150 million for Davis.
“Does it blow me away? Well, no. I think, honestly that’s the price any team pays when you’ve got one of the players you want as a free agent. I went through it myself, and it costs the team a lot to do that,” Anderson said.
“Small to mid-market teams like we are have a player you appreciate, like Darren for instance. That would have been a player where we knew all about him, which in a way hurt us. Some guys are so good that you fail to appreciate because you see them every day, and you look back and you compare Darren as a free agent to other free agents in the market, and you say, this guy is the elite reliever on the market.
“When you have him, you think it looks so easy. You forget how hard it is. It can cost you millions of dollars, and in Darren’s case, that’s what happened. In Chris Davis’ case the same thing is happening. I would hope in the future we would be quicker to react, especially on our own free agents and allow them to become free agents if we really want them.”
Some of the players that originally worked out with Anderson in California: Zach Britton, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman, have moved to Sarasota and will work out there, but Gonzalez, who’s from southern California, has returned there already to work with Anderson.
Left-handed pitcher Tim Berry, who had a disappointing season with Bowie, is scheduled to work out there. Last year’s Rule 5 draft pick Jason Garcia and promising right-handed Mike Wright, will work out there, too. So will Dariel Alvarez and Jonathan Schoop.
The players who began working with Anderson, which also included Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz, established themselves as big leaguers.
“We need to start over and get a new crop of guys doing that,” Anderson said. “We’re not going to forget about those [veteran] guys. But, as their success in the big leagues becomes obvious, they sort of move on to other places.”
QUIZ ANSWER: Anderson began his career with the Boston Red Sox and was traded to the Orioles in July 1988 along with Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker. He ended his career by playing 34 games with the Cleveland Indians in 2002.
He tried for a comeback with the San Diego Padres in 2003, but that ended after he played 23 games with Triple-A Portland.
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